Author Topic: Calling shows: Calling sound cues  (Read 8730 times)

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JenniferEver

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Calling shows: Calling sound cues
« on: Jul 20, 2006, 08:52 am »
I'm used to calling a show physicallyt and completely non-verbally because of the set up at my college. How do you verbally call a sound cue that is supposed to be the end of music..for example if you're playing a song and it has to fade out or get cut off at a specific place...do you just call it as a sound cue

Music on : Sound B GO
Music off : Sound C GO

I just feel like calling it vebally would be hard to get it to cut off in the right place and to hear me and the music?
« Last Edit: Feb 11, 2008, 12:46 pm by PSMKay »

Tigerrr

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #1 on: Jul 20, 2006, 12:25 pm »
I've called sound cues differently depending on the designer.  Some like to number the in & out as their own cues.  For instance the in would be SQ 3 and the out would be SQ 4.  The rationale for that is they're separate actions (at least that's what I was told), but I don't like that method very much.

Another way is to give the music cues letters after the numbers.  For instance SQ 3 would be the in and SQ 3A would be the out.  That way any cue with a letter after the number could be considered a level change in the music, so if you have several level changes in one piece of music, you could go SQ 3 as the in, SQ 3A as the level change (say it goes up for a scene change), and SQ 3B as the out.  If you keep the numbers the same, you know you're always dealing with one track.

The problem with that method is that cues that play out (where you don't have to call the out) can get confused with ones that you do have to call an out.  So what I'll sometimes do is give a music cue a letter at the beginning.  For instance, SQ 3A is the in, SQ 3B is the level change, and SQ 3C is the out.  That way, we all know from the first call that it's music.  Any cues that simply play out (like a gunshot for instance) is just a number, with no letter.

If you want to continue with using letters for your sound cues, you could still do the same thing but call Sound A1, Sound A2, etc.  It's the same principle.

Yes, it's hard to talk and listen to music at the same time :)  It's part of the challenge of calling a show.  If possible, I'd see if you can get your hands on the sound cues and listen to them at home, or spend some extra time in the booth practicing (if at all possible).  Time out how long it takes you to say the words before the time in the music when you have to call it.  It's the same when someone is speaking - you have to time out when you're going to start saying "Sound Cue 3A, GO" so that the GO happens when it's supposed to happen.

Hope this helps :)

hbelden

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #2 on: Jul 20, 2006, 12:36 pm »
It sounds like, from your original post, that you have a separate person operating the sound cues; and that you and your operator are not on headset?  A headset would allow your voice to be heard by the sound operator clearly, along with any music playing.

If you think that the audience would hear your calls as easily as the operator, you may want to use hand signals or cue lights to call cues.  If you have a line-of-sight to your operator (for example, if you're sitting right next to each other), then hand signals are lowest-tech.  You raise your hand to warn the cue, and lower your hand or point to the operator to signal the go. 

If you don't have a line-of-sight to the operator, then you can rig a cue light - lowest tech would be a cliplight at the operator's station run to a powerstrip at your station.  To warn the cue, you turn the powerstrip on, and to signal the go, you turn the powerstrip off.

Neither one of these systems works if you have sound problems - if your operator plays the wrong track, for example - so a headset is preferable.  But if you only have a few sound cues, and you have a trustworthy operator, either will be sufficient.
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Scott

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #3 on: Jul 20, 2006, 01:21 pm »

Music on : Sound B GO
Music off : Sound C GO


The correct call would be:

Sound B GO
Sound B Prime GO

Sound B Prime is annotated as SQ B'

(Of course, if you're using Q-lights, then you don't pronounce the B' at all.)

I would say that while most pro. sound ops don't like to stay on headset at all times (and it's crippling for them not to have at least one ear free), they can generally run their Q from headset calls, since so much of playback is digital and visual.


loebtmc

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #4 on: Jul 20, 2006, 01:36 pm »
my preference is to write sound Qs as alpha, so the point cues default to numbers - as in:

SA (on)

SA1 (same sound, change level, or take out,whatever the internal shift in that cue is for the scene)

on headset I simply say SA out....GO

UNLESS it is a crossfade, in which case it is a separate cue - SB

I don't bother writing SQ before a sound cue, just S - it's one less duplicate letter and add'l sound to make, and if I am tired I don't want to confuse the issue by saying SQA, esp when there is a cue Q in the system - same w lights (L, not LX or LQ)

cueing by hand signal is great - palm out is standby, point for the go - same for out, or level change, altho an option (from working w musicians) is going from palm to fist close for sound out

I have had designers write SA for on and SB for off, but it seems such a waste -

Mac Calder

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #5 on: Jul 20, 2006, 06:31 pm »
I would get together with your operator and ask what they prefer, however the norm over here in Australia seems to be numbered, each action is a separate cue.

As Tigerrr said, the rationale is that cues are an action and not related in any way to what actually happens. Just like lighting, as a general rule I do not call "LX to Black... Go"  or "LX1 go", "LX1A go" when houselights go up and down, it is my personal opinion you should treat sound the same. LX0 is houselights up, LX1 is houselights down, SD0 is preshow up, SD1 is preshow down.

There is also the fact that on some shows a sound cue may start multiple special effects, and then you may have to cue each one off at different times etc.

Most sound ops I have seen (and I know I do) create a running sheet which contains certain information for each playback device they have - the sheets can get pretty big (I have one from a show I sound opped that was 8 playback devices, 4 A4 sheets wide, landscape, and 8 pages down) - and the easiest way to work a running sheet is to number straight through. For example, I am stood by for SD3, I look at #3 in my running sheet, I have playback 1 @ -10, full left cued to track 4, I have playback 2 @ 0, center cued to track 6 and I have playback 3 @ 0, center cued to track 1. SD3 goes I play all three decks. Stood by for SD4, I look at #4, I have a slow fade down on both playbacks 2 and 3. etc. If I was to do it with a letter relating to a track, I would be stood by for SD C,D,E, then D1,E1 etc...

However the way you cue should be compremise between you and your board opperator.
« Last Edit: Jul 20, 2006, 08:03 pm by Mac Calder »

MatthewShiner

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #6 on: Jul 21, 2006, 12:00 am »
As sound cues, at least it regional theatre, and become more and more automated, it's just like calling LX cues.


They tend to be numbers, and every change you have to call advances the numbers.  Some designers like

Sound Cue 5 - Start the cue
Sound Cue 5.5 - volume change
Sound Cue 5.9 - Sound Out

But that is the deisgner's choice. 
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

BalletPSM

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #7 on: Jul 21, 2006, 10:31 am »
I usually call them by letters.

Sound Q A GO

Standby to fade out A

A fade out GO

for the show I'm currently calling, the engineer is just running the Qs off a light, since there are so few of them and it is a musical so he can't really be on headset.  Light goes on for the standby and off for the go.  For the Qs that fade out, I turn the light back on as soon as I turn it off for the original go, then turn it off again when he has to fade the Q out.
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Tigerrr

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #8 on: Jul 22, 2006, 03:20 am »
I find it interesting how we talk about sound cues.  For the most part, lighting is 1...2...3...4 etc, but there are so many different ways of calling sound.  I think everyone pretty much has it right in that it's usually up to the designer as to how they're going to number/letter the cues or it'll be up to you and your sound op.  Sometimes the sound op is more of a sound magician than simply an operator.  Sometimes, the sound op is pretty much limited to pressing play when you say "go".   

I guess that ultimately it depends on the sound designer.  One thing that seems to be universal among sound designers though is that they often like to try to make sure a cue ENDS at a particular time.  So they'll try to get you to get a timing of the scene or part of a scene, so that a build can happen in the music and culminate at a particular time in the action.  What they don't seem to understand is that, no matter when I call the start of the cue, the end will happen at a different time each night because the actors are going to follow a slightly different pace each night.  Or am I the only one who's experienced this?


Mac Calder

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #9 on: Jul 22, 2006, 03:42 am »
That is the wonder of live arts... the most unpredictable link in the chain (read actors) ensure that you cannot really time sound cues.

For example, Sound Designing a new australian work, scene 1 had background atmosphere. The scene had a lot of LONG pauses. Well the average time was 3 minutes for that scene during rehearsals. So I played it safe, 6 minutes of atmosphere. Once, the opening scene took 9 minutes - unfortunatly the first 15 or so seconds of that track were quite distinctive so replaying it was impossible. So the last three minutes was mainly silence. Thankfully the SM ripped the 2 actors a new orofice and the longest time that scene took after that was 4:30.

As a sound designer (not my favorite position) it is a real pain in the rear. There are some shows where I often want to use quite defined lengths - ie where a piece of music I am using goes out of context when played beyond a boundary. It also effects licensing sometimes. But if you try and say to an actor (or a director) "That dance sequence CANNOT EXCEED 45 seconds", their back gets out of joint and I get told to make the track longer - anyone who has ever done sound design will know how hard it is to seamlessly extend music.

VSM

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #10 on: Jul 22, 2006, 12:57 pm »
When I have been involved in sequences that must be timed as an integral part of the scene, I find that we have acheived the best results if we treat the scene as choreography. The Director, Sound Designer, Stage Manager and the Actors all put it together during rehearsal, understanding and acknowledging the importance of maintaining the specific structure and I have had very few problems.

If the actors know to listen to the sound and let it inspire their timing, things seem to work a little easier...
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JenniferEver

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #11 on: Jul 26, 2006, 01:25 pm »
Thanks for all the advice! After all of that, I ended up running sound!  ;D

kjdiehl

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #12 on: Jul 30, 2006, 11:46 pm »

The correct call would be:

Sound B GO
Sound B Prime GO


"Correct"?!!??! Tell me you're kidding, right?




Anyway, I think the big deal with recorded sound is that it is NOT like LX. (Well, not until very recently with the gradual emergence of computer sound boards, which are far from ubiquitous yet.) With LX, we have a computer board which deals with each and every lighting change in exactly the same way: as a completely discrete and NUMBERABLE action. Whereas with sound, we have many cues, each with their own sources, GOs, volume and EQ modifications, and Outs. The discrete part is the entire cue, from start to finish, whether it's a telephone ring or a complete underscore. Otherwise, nearly every action is very different. GO on a MD Player is very different from a slow fade up on Volume of the CD track, while panning from L to R. To number two such cues similarly doesn't seem logical- If the operator is performing two radically different actions, why confuse them by forcing the actions to conform to a non-descriptive numbering regiment. For the same reasons, we've already discussed on here how we don't call Scene Changes by numbers. We call them by what they actually are.

So for me, I like to call the cues something like this:

SQA... GO
S Volume Up... GO
S Volume Down... GO
S Out... GO

I see no need to say SQA Out Go, since we already know we're in SQA, (unless there are overlapping cues.)
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Mac Calder

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #13 on: Jul 31, 2006, 12:56 am »
I can see where your method has merit, however I just pulled out one of the shows I did recently (as sound op and designer), and here is an example of one section - namely, it was a car is started off stage, an effects rack was used over the actors mics to distort their voices along with a few other things.

Cue 55: Track 5, deck C is played, vol at -10, group 1 master pan full right, group 1 master vol at -10.
Cue 56: Track 12, deck B is played, vol at -20, Insert1 full, Mics 1-4 Insert1 full.
Cue 57: G1M Vol faded up to +10 over 3, FXRack 1 Param1 to 9 slow fade up to 10 over a 4 count, G1M Vol faded to -40 over 5, panning to full left.
Cue 58: Track 15, deck A is played, vol at -20, Insert2 full, FXRack 2 Param 3 to 6, Param 4 to 10
Cue 59: FXRack2 Param4 to 0 over 6
Cue 60: Kill all

Admittedly, this show was not your average show, as I was opping and designing I used a lot of live effects and it was extreamly complex, but I was wondering how you would call it. Whilst the operation of LX is different to that of Sound, I believe the operator interface is just the same. For example, in the age of single preset boards, you did not call "LX1 Go, LX fade down GO, LX to black GO." etc. You told them a cue number, the operator looked at their tracking sheet and they performed the action. I like to treat sound the same way - especially as it is getting more complex.
« Last Edit: Jul 31, 2006, 01:01 am by Mac Calder »

Scott

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Re: Calling sound cues
« Reply #14 on: Jul 31, 2006, 12:04 pm »

The correct call would be:

Sound B GO
Sound B Prime GO


"Correct"?!!??! Tell me you're kidding, right?


Well, when I say correct, I mean to say that given the example given in the question posed, the clearest call that would be understood by the majority of professional audio operators in the United States would be the call I suggested.

(That's my story and I'm sticking to it...until I find that this notation is a practical joke perpetuated on me years ago that everyone since seems to have gone along with...)

In terms of rises and falls (volume up and down) -- I've been expected to learn those myself when I've run sound professionally and I generally expect the same from my audio ops.

I haven't yet met the op who was confused by a consistent labeling system (whether letters or numbers) for multiple sources and actions and hope I never will.

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